An Oceanside man convicted of kidnapping and murdering a 3-week-old Long Beach girl whose body was found in a San Diego County trash bin was sentenced Monday to prison.
Anthon Ray McCall, 32, also was convicted of trying to kill the baby's parents and uncle, along with a separate attack on a woman in an El Segundo hotel room, as part of a pregnancy scam that involved a co-defendant. A jury in Long Beach deliberated for under three hours before finding McCall guilty on March 2 of one count each of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, along with four counts of attempted murder.
He was sentenced Monday to 142 years to life in prison. In sentencing McCall, Judge Judith L. Meyer called what had happened "a tragic situation."
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She said she was most appalled by wiretap evidence presented during the trial involving a phone call between the defendant and another accomplice, in which McCall was asked if he was promised anything in exchange for what he had done.
"And I quote the defendant's response, 'It was for me, for me, for me, honestly dude, I did it out of the sheer kindness of my heart,'" the judge said, adding that she didn't know how anyone could say such a thing regarding a baby.
Co-defendant Giseleangelique Rene D'Milian, who had been charged along with McCall, pleaded no contest Jan. 5 to one count of first-degree murder for the January 2015 killing of Eliza De La Cruz, along with two counts of attempted murder involving the girl's father and uncle. The 50-year-old Thousand Oaks woman was sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison.
In her opening statement last month, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes told jurors that D'Milian needed to get hold of a newborn child after falsely telling a boyfriend she had been pregnant with twins, so she followed the 3-week-old girl and her mother, Jacqueline Honorato, home from a bus stop.
The prosecutor said McCall -- a close friend and associate of D'Milian -- took the baby from her mother's arms and shot Honorato and the baby's father and uncle on Jan. 3, 2015, with a gun using silencers made from potatoes.
The baby's kidnapping was "all over the news," and the next day the baby was found thrown away "like trash" in a plastic trash bag that had been left in a trash bin in Imperial Beach, along with items on which McCall's DNA was found, including the knot on the top of the trash bag, Barnes told jurors. The baby had died of asphyxiation, according to the prosecutor.
"The evidence will show you the defendant did not stop there because D'Milian still needed a baby," Barnes said, telling jurors that the mother of another infant was lured to a hotel room in El Segundo on Feb. 6, 2015, in an effort to kidnap her baby. That woman screamed for help while being beaten with a baseball bat and other hotel guests notified the front desk, with police being summoned to the hotel, the prosecutor said.
McCall's attorney, Rodney Buck, told jurors in his opening statement that the prosecution's presentation made it seem like the case was a slam dunk. But he said the evidence would show that "Mr. McCall was framed."
"He was set up to take the fall for crimes he didn't commit," the defense lawyer said, telling jurors that he believed they would have reasonable doubt by the end of the case.
Among the first witnesses called to the stand by the prosecution were the mother, father and uncle of the 3-week-old girl. In emotional testimony, the girl's mother said she pleaded with her assailant not to take the baby from her.
"I couldn't do anything to stop him," Honorato said, noting that she unsuccessfully tried to chase him.
She said she could hear the voice of a woman telling the baby, "I'm your new mommy." She said the voice was the same as the woman who had approached her that afternoon, asked her how old the baby was and offered her a ride home, which she declined.
"Did you ever see her (Eliza) again?" the prosecutor asked.
"No," the woman said, crying.
She testified that she identified a photo of McCall when police showed her photos of him and five other men a couple of months later, citing "his eyes." Under cross-examination, she said she didn't remember saying whether her assailant had a neck tattoo and said she didn't see a tattoo on McCall's neck in court.
The baby's father, Eddy De La Cruz, said he was shot in a leg and he only saw his daughter one last time when he was shown a photo of her by police trying to identify her.
"Was she alive or dead?" the prosecutor asked.
"She was dead," Eddy De La Cruz responded.
McCall and D'Milian were arrested in March 2015 by Long Beach police, who said then that police detectives had reviewed extensive video surveillance footage and determined that a black Range Rover had followed the mother and baby before the shooting that day. Detectives also learned that their counterparts in El Segundo were investigating the attack on the mother of a 4-month-old boy, Long Beach police said.
A third defendant, Todd Damon Boudreaux, 46, pleaded guilty in October 2016 to being an accessory after the fact and is awaiting sentencing.
The prosecutor said Eliza's parents decided it would be too emotional for them to return to court to make victim impact statements during the sentencing phase.